Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Winter Meeting Report

Braving the season’s first major snowfall and the resulting snow-clogged roads, a hardy band of brothers and sisters managed to make the January 19, 2019 meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit.

In all, 29 Mendicants and friends turned out to enjoy fellowship, a tasty repast and to celebrate the 165th birthday of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, within the cozy and familiar confines of the British Commonwealth Club in Warren, Michigan.

AMS Gasogene John Kramb called the dinner meeting to order at 6:20 p.m., welcoming everyone who had defied the storm and then introducing the society’s board members and planning committee.
Also acknowledged were members of the society’s prestigious Lower Vault, who had earned their honors through long service to the society or for making a distinctive presentation to the membership.

Next on the agenda were the society’s traditional toasts, as organized by Commissionaire Chris Music. They were offered to The Woman by Michael Ellis, Mrs. Hudson by Christine Del Greco, Mycroft Holmes by Bev Ellis and Watson’s Second Wife by Rob Musial.

In addition, there were three special toasts as Rich Krisciunas poetically saluted Mary Sutherland, Rob Musial honored Mr. Holmes on his birthday (explaining why January 6th was the actual day) and Brad Schwartz toasted Edgar Allen Poe, whose 1841 story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” featured literature’s first detective, C. Auguste Dupin.

With glasses drained, the assemblage dined on a fine buffet dinner of chicken Marsala, carved beef, roasted and mashed potatoes and vegetables al dente. Also included were slices of two special birthday cakes from the Chocolate Bar Café in Grosse Pointe Woods, one in the shape of Holmes’ pipe and the other in the shape of a deerstalker cap.

Once the gourmandizing concluded, Michael Ellis then went over the talking points and questions from the assigned story, “A Case of Identity,” which involved a typewriter, a near-sighted woman and a despicable suitor.

Then came Part One of the evening’s presentation – a discussion by Liza Potts, who is the caretaker of the information-packed website, Originally created back in 1994 by the venerable Chris Redmond, it was the first website devoted to The Master. Since 2016, Potts and her research fellows at Michigan State University have worked to update and reorganize it for ease of use and keep up with the ever-growing volume of Sherlockiana.

Strangely, Potts’ PowerPoint presentation mysteriously featured slides with red backgrounds – something she couldn’t account for – which either could have been a message from The Beyond from Mr. Holmes or merely the precursor to the super blood red wolf moon eclipse that peaked at midnight the next evening.

Spookiness aside, it was then time for Part Two of the evening’s presentation, the reading of a scene from a new play by David MacGregor of the Purple Rose Theatre, who last year premiered a play there involving Sherlock Holmes and Vincent Van Gogh that sold-out during its run.
The new play, set to premiere at the Purple Rose this fall, is entitled “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Soufflé,” which investigates an affair involving Holmes, Dr. Watson, the Prince of Wales and the legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier. 

The hastily-formed volunteer Mendicant Players enacting the scene included Rich Krisciunas as Holmes, Rob Musial as Dr. Watson and Rachel Gosch as Mrs. Hudson; all of whom are now waiting for a call-back from the Purple Rose.

With the meeting winding down, Gasogene John Kramb informed the group that a June meeting is being considered – with details to follow at a later date.

Christine Del Greco then handled the drawing for an exceptional offering of door prizes. The winners included John and Ann LaFond (who won an autographed copy of the book co-authored by Brad Schwartz, “Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness and the Battle for Chicago”); Fritzi Roth (a 221B fleece throw, perfect for cold winter nights); Chris Jeryan (“Sherlock Holmes’s London”); Joyce Hostnick (“Sherlock Holmes: The Story Behind the World’s Greatest Detective” by Time Inc.); David MacGregor (“The World of Sherlock Holmes”); Anne Musial (“Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2”); Natalie Katkowsky (a commemorative red canister set of three English teas) and Sherry Jurva (“Sherlock Holmes on Top of the World,” featuring an adventure from the time when Holmes portrayed the Norwegian explorer Sigerson).

Finally, there was the traditional singing of “God Save the Queen” and the reading of “221B” by Rob Musial, who first explained what the phrase “view-halloo” meant in the poem.

Following that, the Gasogene gaveled the meeting to a close at 9:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Rob Musial, AMS Tantalus